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You’ll Never Guess What’s Hiding In Plain Sight Right Here In Florida

Outside of the Haunted Mansion ride, the words creepy and Magic Kingdom rarely go together. That’s what’s so strange and unexpected about the existence of an overgrown abandoned island attraction sitting right in the middle of the most magical place on Earth.

The old Discovery Island, along with the River Country water park, are the only two projects of this size that Disney World has ever had to abandon. While it seems like everything Disney touches turns to gold, these two attractions were the exception to the rule. You can check out our post on the abandoned River Country water park to learn more about it, but in the case of Discovery Island, it just never seemed to take off.

The 11.5-acre Discovery Island was first opened as Treasure Island, a nod to the classic novel. It was stocked with hundreds of exotic plants and animals, and the name was later changed to better reflect its purpose. It operated from 1974 until 1999, when the impressive Animal Kingdom park was opened, making little Discovery Island pretty pointless.

Disney buffs will know that the hub of the Animal Kingdom park is now called Discovery Island, and that’s because the park was basically a huge expansion of the original Discovery Island concept. In fact, when the island was abandoned and the animals were removed, many of them were relocated to the new Animal Kingdom. The island and its zoological facilities were then left to nature, but it has been reported that the lights still came on nightly for several years. In 2008, the park finally started dismantling some of the larger suggestions of what the island used to be, like the dock and a crumbling pirate ship.

In 2009, urban explorers risked life and limb to swim across Bay Lake in the middle of the night and explore the abandoned attraction. They snapped some interesting photos of the abandoned facilities, but even they would agree they were naive of the dangers involved, and there are many reasons it’s a bad idea to attempt this, including arrest and alligators.

Here’s a video showing what Discovery Island was like before it was shut down and abandoned (note the unpredictable Florida weather at the end):

There have long been discussions of the island’s potential as an attraction and whether Disney will ever decide to use the land again. So far, no plans have been confirmed, and the island continues to become more and more wild every year.

What do you think Disney World should do with the abandoned island?

Victoria W
Victoria is a staff writer for OIYS.